Tapioca is a white starchy product extracted from cassava tuber. These tubers are native to Brazil and much of South America.
Popularly known as KpoKpo garri in Nigeria, it is a staple food in many parts of the country.
The starchy flesh is usually produced into various forms and this includes pearls, flakes, granules, as well as powders.
Tapioca pearls are commonly used to make tapioca pudding and bubble teas. However, it also serves as a thickening agent and is added to both savory and sweet dishes.
Tapioca contains a high amount of carbohydrates and some other key properties that the body requires for proper function, including protein, fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, selenium and potassium, etc.
Tapioca is also a gluten-free food and is a great alternative to wheat and other grains.
Here are some of its health benefits.
1. Supports healthy weight gain
Even though most women tend to desire weight loss over weight gain, there are also individuals that struggle with adding some flesh.
Tapioca may provide a quick and easy way to gain weight in a healthy way as the high carbohydrate content means that it is easy to add bulk and calories to your diet without any unhealthy cholesterol or saturated fats that can result in other health concerns.
This makes tapioca an ideal choice for people who need to gain weight, particularly after an illness, injury, surgery or an eating disorder.
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2. Aids digestion
Fiber has been directly linked to improving a number of conditions within the human body, but the most obvious is in terms of digestion and heart health. Fiber bulks up the stool, which may help move it through the digestive tract, thereby eliminating constipation, bloating, andpain.
3. Supports heart health
Tapioca may be able to reduce high cholesterol levels. This is especially true when combined with other fiber-rich sources, such as whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruit and veggies. Achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
4. Promotes bone health
The amount of iron and calcium in tapioca is a great source of nutrients for your bones. They can protect the bones from any damage as you age. Some bone-health issues such as osteoporosis can be prevented and the bones density can be maintained. Iron and calcium are also helpful in keeping you energized, so eating tapioca regularly would be great for your bones and body.
5. May boost energy
Carbohydrates are considered the source of energy for the body since sugars like sucrose are broken down into glucose, which provides usable energy. Tapioca may be rich in carbohydrates, without the negatives such as LDL cholesterol and saturated fats, so it may help keep energy levels high and increase satiety.
6. Prevents birth defects during pregnancy
Tapioca may contain a significant amount of B-complex vitamins, including folic acid. Adequate amounts of these vitamins during pregnancy have been directly connected to reducing the chances of birth defects.
Folic acid helps the body produce new cells and is vital for a developing brain and spine.
Women of childbearing years are encouraged to consume or supplement adequate amounts of folic acid, at least 400 micrograms each day. This helps protect from neural tube defects that can develop in the first three months of pregnancy.
7. Improves mental health
While vitamin K is good for the bones, this vitamin is also excellent for mental health. The neuronal activity can be stimulated with vitamin K, which means Alzheimer’s risk can be also reduced. As you are getting older, lack of activity in the brain can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, but vitamin K allows the neural pathways active while protecting the brain tissues from free radicals.
8. Increases blood circulation
Tapioca prevents iron deficiency diseases like anemia. Anemia is a condition where your body is lacking iron and it leads to fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, and other symptoms. The increasing red blood cells in the body can support proper oxygen and blood circulation, which results in better functioning of some organ systems.
9. Free of common allergens
Tapioca is suitable for people with various dietary limitations as it is cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and free of common allergens, such as gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, fish, and nuts.
Being free of these common allergens offers an option for those needing to eliminate them. The starch can replace various flours and thickeners in gluten-free recipes. This may be in combination with other gluten-free options, including potato starch.
Since it is grain-free and gluten-free, tapioca powder is often used as an alternative flour in baking.